The pears are ripening at Agnes Pat Nelson's farm in Moncks Corner, and she wants some fresh ideas for using them.
Fruit from the pear trees found in many Lowcountry backyards typically are better for cooking than for eating out of hand because they are quite hard. Clemson Extension agent Roger Francis tells me they are the Bartlett variety.
However, you'll find people, plus a canine or two, who like those pears in the raw just fine.
My late Labrador, Jordan, was a lifelong fruit and vegetable lover, which started with the pear tree in our Windermere yard. She first ate the fallen pears on the ground, then graduated to raising up on her hind legs and picking them right off the tree. Now that was a sight.
Jan Wiles of Holly Hill writes, "We have three pear trees in our yard that give us an over-bountiful supply every year. I have tried using them in many ways. I am sending three of my recipes that may be enjoyed by your readers."
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
3 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups sugar
2 cups peeled and diced pears
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Combine the nuts and the dry ingredients except sugar in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center. In another container, combine the oil, eggs, sugar, pears and vanilla extract. Add to dry ingredients, stirring until just moistened and no dry ingredients are left at the bottom of the bowl. Spoon mixture into two greased 8 1/2x4x3-inch loaf pans. Bake in a 325-degree oven 60 to 70 minutes, until the edges pull away from the pan. (Toothpick test also works.) Cool 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Freezes well.
Momma J's Pear Pie
1 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, cut in chunks
5 pears, peeled, cored and sliced thin
1 deep-dish pie crust
Chopped nuts for topping (optional)
Blend all ingredients except pears with a dough/pastry blender until they are in pea-size pieces. Put 1 cup of the mixture in a bowl with the pears and stir. Fill pie crust. The mixture will cook down, so if it is above the crust, it's OK. Put the remainder of crumb mixture on top. If desired, sprinkle with chopped nuts. Cook 15 minutes at 450 degrees, then 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Local and regional cookbooks also are a source for pear recipes. This one is found in "Amazing Grace," a collection of recipes from Grace Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston.
Almond Custard Pears
6 to 8 servings
2 cups water
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided use
1/2 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
4 large (or 8 small) pears, pared, halved and cored
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup sliced almonds
In a medium saucepan combine water, 1 cup sugar, orange juice and peel. Heat to boiling, add pear halves a few at a time and simmer gently about 10 minutes or until tender. Drain well and place in baking dish. Boil poaching syrup until reduced to 3/4 cup.
Beat eggs with remaining sugar, flour and salt. Add half-and-half and reduced syrup. Cook and stir over low heat about 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in almond extract. Pour over pears. Garnish with sliced almonds.
This recipe is from a treasured cookbook on my bookshelf, "Fresh Every Day" by Sara Foster of Foster's Market in Durham and Chapel Hill, N.C. The book was published in 2005.
Sara suggests serving these pears with vanilla ice cream or, for something different, with fresh ricotta cheese or creamy fresh goat cheese at room temperature, and cracked black pepper.
Maple-Vanilla Roasted Pears
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rub the butter over the bottom of a baking sheet with sides and sprinkle with the sugar.
Peel the pears and cut them in half lengthwise. Cut the cores out with a melon scoop or a small paring knife and place the pears, cut side down, on the baking pan.
Stir the maple syrup and vanilla together in a measuring cup and drizzle evenly over the pears.
Roast the pears until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife and the sugar is caramelized, 40 to 45 minutes, spooning the sauce in the pan over the pears while they cook; this keeps them moist and gives them a nice glaze. Serve warm with the sauce spooned over them.
Pear relish may be my favorite relish -- well, at least neck-and-neck with artichoke. It really takes a turkey sandwich to a new level.
This recipe is from The Post and Courier archives.
Makes 12 pints
2 dozen large green pears
1 dozen green bell peppers
1 dozen red bell peppers
4 to 6 hot peppers (depending on personal taste)
1 dozen medium onions
1 quart white vinegar
4 tablespoons salt
4 tablespoons celery seed
4 tablespoons mustard seed
2 cups sugar
Peel and core pears, and cut. Wash, cut and remove seeds from peppers. Peel and cut onions. Grind all together in food processor. Place in large container and add vinegar, spices and sugar. Boil for 45 minutes and pack in hot sterilized jars.
Nancy Gouse of Charleston alerted me to a mistake in the Aug. 29 column. Her sauerbraten recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of red wine, not 1/2 cup. It was my typing error.
Here is corrected recipe.
Serves at least 4
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups red wine
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon pickling spices
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, sliced
3 celery tops, chopped
3-pound beef rump roast
19 gingersnap cookies, broken into pieces
1 1/2 cups well-packed dark brown sugar
For marinating: Mix all ingredients through celery tops, pour over meat, cover and marinate in refrigerator for at least 2 to 3 days, turning meat daily.
For cooking: Mix broken gingersnaps with sugar and add to the marinade in a heavy cooking pot, stirring well to dissolve the brown sugar. Add meat, bring to a slight boil, then simmer over very low heat for 2 to 3 hours.
Stir every half-hour to keep from sticking. Remove the meat, strain and discard the vegetables from the gravy.
Serve with potato dumplings, red cabbage and crusty Russian rye bread.
Who's got the recipe?
--Joyce Owens would like the recipe for a fruit pie that she once had at the Charleston Country Club. "It contained bananas and coconut and was outstanding."
--Last call: A West Ashley reader seeks fresh ideas for cooking for two.
--A colleague is looking for main dishes that freeze well and vegetable sides that don't use heavy creams or sauces.
Looking for a recipe or have one to share? Reach Food Editor Teresa Taylor at 937-4886 or email@example.com.